CCP is trying something ambitious -- but that doesn't seem to be making quite the waves it ought to. It is linking its successful MMO, EVE Online, directly and fundamentally into its next game, Dust 514, a console shooter.
Players in EVE and Dust will interact directly. If you play the sci-fi shooter, which will launch on the PlayStation Network as a downloadable game, you will be able to accept mercenary jobs from EVE players, or even join EVE's player-driven corporations. The economies of the games are unified, and the battles fought in Dust will have consequences for the players of EVE who run the corporations that sponsor them.
In this interview, producer Thomas Farrer, who works out of CCP's Shanghai studio, where Dust is being developed, answers questions about the tight integration of the two titles, why the company chose to go with PlayStation 3 and not Xbox 360, and how the company has been planning for this as far back as 2008.
It's interesting to hear that, as far back as 2008, with Dominion, you were planning the infrastructure to make Dust possible.
Thomas Farrer: Well, you know, I think with pretty much everything CCP does, we're always looking forward, and we're always looking to see what we might do in the future. So, there's always all kinds of ideas for where we might like to take things.
I remember having conversations together with Atli Sveinsson, the creative director on the project. We were in Sweden at the time. We were both working at DICE. I remember having conversations with him, talking about this concept, and eventually it came to fruition.
I feel like this is one of the most ambitious things happening in games right now. I don't think it's generating as much buzz as maybe it deserves -- because really I don't see anybody else trying to do something similar.
TF: I was thinking about this. Often, particularly in first-person games, games often look very inwards when it comes to how they are trying to innovate or move things forward. What we've tried to do is look more outwards.
We're not looking at innovating at all the kind of typical areas that you see. We're looking at the way you connect to the world that you're playing in, and the way that you connect to the communities and people that you're playing with. I think people aren't really so used to those kind of ideas.
It's not just the same IP; it's the same universe. Literally, Dust is hooking into the same servers.
TF: It's about trying to broaden our audience, like sort of broaden the kind of experiences we can offer players in New Eden.
I think what I find interesting is the way in which players in the two games are going to be communicating and interacting. I don't really have a grip on it.
TF: You know, between the PC and PS3, right now, we already have chat up and running, so players can type and talk to each other. Obviously, we're working on all of our communication options. EVE mail and Dust mail will be the same thing. You'll be able to interact via [community portal] EVE Gate, and also VOiP implementation as well.
Since the characters in Dust are mercenaries, the players are going to be mercenaries. Are they actually hired player-run EVE corporations?
TF: This is actually really important and goes to what you're saying about looking at how players interact. There's no difference between a Dust corporation and an EVE corporation. It's the same thing. Dust players can join an EVE corporation. If a Dust player creates a corporation, EVE players can join that corporation. It's the same thing.
Say if, for example, you only have pilots in your corp, you can quite easily hire a mercenary-only corporation to fight for you. You want them to go and just destroy someone's things on a planet or take control of them for you, you can do that. You can hire them; you can use them as mercenaries.
Or much like you see in EVE corps, you have different groups within a corporation that specialize in different things. You know, you've got your miners. You've got your pilots. You've got people manufacturing. Now you've got a standing army.
Dust is a PSN download game, but I'm assuming from the scope of it, you envision it as a live service as much as you view EVE as a live service.
TF: Yeah. Our production mentality is exactly the same. It's continuous development. Kind of like what you were saying -- like how long, or how far back we were planning this. I had a friend of mine describe this: you've always got one more bite of the apple. You don't have to discard all your ideas. If you think, "Okay, we've got to get something out here", normally it just gets cut. But in this development, it doesn't get cut. It just doesn't get done yet.
And that's a nice position to be in because, you know, to be able to craft something over a much longer period of time, but also the same way that we work together with the community in EVE, we can improve it as a group, as a team almost, together with our players. We can't be so arrogant that we're going to know how players are going to play, or how they're going to want to interact. I'm sure it's going to surprise us, and we're actually going to have to make adjustments because of that.